Chewing comes naturally to dogs. Providing safe chew toys helps curb destructive chewing behaviors and is important for your dog’s dental health. But when it comes to natural chews like deer antlers, many pet parents have questions. Can dogs eat deer antlers safely? What are the benefits and risks? Keep reading to learn all you need to know about giving your dog deer antlers.
Are Deer Antlers Safe for Dogs?
Generally, dogs can eat deer antlers. Deer antlers are a popular dog chew with benefits and potential risks. Understanding both will help you decide whether they are a good option for your pup.
Benefits of Antlers
Antlers provide mental stimulation and satisfy dogs’ natural desire to chew. The chewing action removes plaque and tartar helping clean teeth and control bacteria. Antlers also contain many minerals like calcium and phosphorus, making them a nutritious boredom buster.
Any hard chew, including antlers, does come with some risks. Aggressive chewers may fracture teeth on the tough exterior. Small pieces can become a choking hazard. If not sourced responsibly, antlers could contain bacteria that cause illness.
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Benefits of Deer Antlers for Dogs
Let’s take a closer look at why deer antlers have become such a popular dog chew.
Cleans Teeth and Controls Plaque
Chewing antlers can help clean your dog’s teeth by scraping off soft plaque and tartar. This reduces bacteria in the mouth and improves dental health. Their abrasive exterior and long-lasting nature make antlers an effective dental chew.
Good Source of Minerals
In their natural state, deer antlers contain many essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, zinc and iron. This makes them a nutritious choice over processed rawhide or plastic chews. Calcium and phosphorus support strong teeth and bones.
Provides Mental Stimulation
Dogs love to chew! Working on an antler satisfies this instinct and keeps your dog entertained for hours. This is extra important for active breeds or dogs left alone during the day. Chewing provides mental stimulation that combats boredom and anxiety.
Risks of Feeding Dogs Deer Antlers
While antlers have many benefits, there are some potential risks to be aware of.
Can Fracture Teeth
Aggressive chewers may fracture teeth on tough surfaces like antlers. Pay close attention to your dog’s chewing style. If they are an aggressive chewer, opt for softer natural chews instead.
Over time, antlers will splinter and chip creating small pieces that dogs could swallow. Allow your dog to chew antlers under supervision and throw away small pieces to prevent choking.
May Contain Bacteria
Deer antlers can harbor bacteria like Clostridium or Salmonella. Choosing high-quality antlers and proper handling reduces this risk. Never give dogs moldy antlers which could cause illness.
Tips for Giving Your Dog Deer Antlers
Follow these tips to give your dog deer antlers safely.
Choose Size Appropriate Antlers
Select antlers suited to your dog’s size and chewing style. Hard surfaces like elk antlers are better suited for large breeds who won’t aggressively crack the surface. Split antlers are softer and a good option for medium dogs.
Don’t Cook Antlers
Cooking or boiling antlers to soften them destroys their nutritional value. This eliminates their dental benefits and minerals. It’s best to give dogs raw, untreated antlers only.
Never leave dogs unsupervised with any chew. Monitor their behavior and take away antlers once they become small pieces. This prevents choking and overconsumption.
Replace Old Antlers
Throw away worn antlers once they become small pieces or start splintering. Replace with a fresh antler to maximize dental benefits. Rotate new antlers to keep things interesting.
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Deer antlers can be a nutritious chewing option for dogs if chosen carefully and used under supervision. Select the right size and hardness level based on your dog’s chewing style. Always monitor them, and replace old antlers to minimize risks. By following these tips, antlers can be an enjoyable way for dogs to exercise their natural chewing instinct while promoting good dental health.
Q: How long do deer antlers last for dogs?
A: Deer antlers can last for weeks or even months, depending on the size of the antler and how aggressively your dog chews. Look for thicker, denser antlers that will take longer to wear down.
Q: Where can I buy deer antlers for dogs?
A: Deer antlers for dogs are sold at many pet supply stores and online retailers. Purchase from reputable sources and choose North American antlers over imported.
Q: Can puppies chew on deer antlers?
A: Veterinarians recommend waiting until dogs have all their adult teeth around 6-8 months old. Their baby teeth are more prone to damage. Give puppies softer chews until they are older.
Q: Are moose antlers safe for dogs?
A: Yes, moose antlers are safe and make a good choice. They have a softer inner core than deer antlers while providing dental benefits.